Wednesday, August 23, 2017

No sec. 14A disallowance if no exempt income earned; CBDT circular can’t override express provision

The issue before the High Court was as under:

Whether the disallowance of the expenditure will be made even where the investment had not resulted in any exempt income during the AY?

High Court held in favour of assessee as under:

1) Section 14A does not clarify whether the disallowance of the expenditure would apply even where no exempt income is earned.

2) The words "in relation to income which does not form part of the total income under the Act for such previous year" in the Rule 8D(1) indicate a correlation between the exempt income earned in the AY and the expenditure incurred to earn it. In other words, the expenditure as claimed by the Assessee had to be in relation to the income earned in 'such previous year'.

3) This implies that if there was no exempt income earned in the relevant AY, the question of disallowance of the expenditure incurred to earn exempt income in terms of Section 14A, read with Rule 8D could not arise.

4) CBDT's Circular No. 5/2014 dated 11-02-2014 does not refer to Rule 8D(1) at all but only refers to the word "includible" occurring in the title to Rule 8D as well as the title to Section 14A. The Circular concluded that it was not necessary that exempt income should necessarily be included in a particular year's income for the disallowance to be triggered.

5) For all of the aforementioned reasons, the CBDT Circular (Supra) couldn’t override the express provisions of Section 14A, read with Rule 8D. Therefore, if no exempt income was earned, there could be no disallowance of expenditure in terms of section 14A, read with Rule 8D. [2017] 84 taxmann.com 186 (Delhi)

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